Saturday, September 20, 2008


I know we still have a few more months before 2008 is over (may 2009 be much, much better). But I was with a group of great friends last night discussing favorite (and not so favorite) books read this past year. Here is a list of our top 12 favorite books for this year:

Luncheon of the Boating Party - Susan Vreeland

Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life - Steve Martin

Three Cups of Tea - Greg Mortenson

Loving Frank - Nancy Horan

Leadership and Self-Deception - Arbinger Institute

Team of Rivals - Doris Goodwin

My Name is Asher Lev - Chaim Potok

Virgin of Small Plains - Nancy Pickard

The Clan of the Cave Bear - Jean Auel

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Shaffer & Barrows

The Third Option - Vince Flynn


Watership Down

Out Stealing Horses

Farewell My Subaru

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox

Friday Knitting Club

Summer at Tiffany

Thank You for Smoking

The Book Thief


Rise and Shine

The Chosen

Here be Dragons

Enchanted April

The Sum of Days (or anything by Isabel Allende)

Unaccustomed Earth

Happy Reading!

Mini Lemon Cheesecake

I tried a new recipe and it was a hit so I am sharing it with you.

This is originally from the July issue of Victoria magazine. I am always leary of recipes from magazines that aren't devoted to cooking becaue I've had problems in the past. This one was no different. First the recipe is called Lemon Tartlets--they aren't really tarts, more like cheesecake. Then it called for an 18 cup mini cheesecake pan--no such thing. After a ridiculous amount of research I could only find a 12 cup mini cheeecake pan (for $24 at ABC Cakes in Phoenix, what a fun little shop).

While making the filling I added more lemon juice, which is reflected in the recipe below. There is enough filling for 12 mini cheesecakes but I had a lot of the crumb mixture left over which I tossed.

But these are super easy to make and very yummy--enjoy!

2 cups gingersnap crumbs (made from about 1 lb cookies, finely ground in food procesor)
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter, softened
1 egg white
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
3 tablespoons lemon zest
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (recipe called for 1 tablespoon)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat over to 350 degrees
In a large bowl, mix together the gingersnap crumbs, brown sugar, butter, and egg white until well blended.
Evenly divide the gingersnap mixture between each well of a 12 cup mini cheeecake pan. Press the mixture into the bottoms and up the sides of the wells (it won't go up too much on the sides), bake for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, sugar, egg, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. Using an electric mixer at medium speed, beat until the mixture is smooth, about 4 minutes.

Evenly spoon the filling into the prepared crusts; bake for 10 minutes, or until the centers are set. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Garnish with lemon zest strips or a rosette of whipped cream.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Cook's Illustrated & Tilapia Fish

My friend, Cassandra, was lucky enough to unexpectedly receive two free issues of Cook's Illustrated Magazine. And I was lucky enough to have them passed on to me.

Cook's Illustrated is about a 35-page magazine (with no ads!) that tests all sorts of favorite classic recipes (the best brownies, the best roasted chicken, etc.), cooking products, and new ideas. You probably have seen the Founder and Editor, Christopher Kimball, on our local PBS station (wonkish-looking guy with the bow tie and wire-rimmed glasses).

I love this magazine! I love when they test the best pizza cutter and it turns out to be the less expensive OXO Good Grips 4 inch pizza cutter that you can get for around $8 at Bed, Bath, and Beyond with one of the dozens of 20% coupons you have lying around the house.

But here is the latest tip I wanted to pass on. I know a lot of you prepare tilapia fish and may have noticed that sometimes it can have a muddy flavor. The test kitchen tried a few ideas and found the best thing is to soak the tilapia in buttermilk for one hour before cooking. Then rinse off the buttermilk, pat the fish dry, and proceed with your recipe. I will definitely try this the next time I cook tilapia.

Cassandra is now subscribing to the magazine and since she saves nothing (maintaining her clutter-free house) she is going to pass them on to me--yeah!